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An Overview of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Enhancing Current Treatment Strategies Using Nanomaterials

Shrestha Baruah


Background and Aim: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a persistent and progressive autoimmune disease commonly affecting many people worldwide that severely attacks joints, leading to inflammation, cartilage destruction, and bone erosion. Exhaustive research on RA over the years has significantly contributed to a better understanding of the disease's causes, mechanism, progression, and treatment. Several therapies are available for its management, including anti-inflammatory and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. This present review aims at providing an overview of RA, including conventional treatment methods and also explores the therapeutic application of phytochemicals in RA therapy and how nanomaterials could serve as a prominent formulation strategy to overcome the challenges associated with the same. Key findings: NSAIDs, GCs and DMARDs are the first commonly used drugs to be administered to a RA patient. While they help alleviate pain and inflammation, they do not decrease the rate of the underlying autoimmune process that causes joint damage in RA. Moreover, long-term usage results may result in adverse side effects. Therefore, phytoconstituents are considered a potential alternative due to their many benefits. However, despite the presence of significant merits, the use of these phytochemicals has several demerits, such as poor bioavailability as a function of low aqueous solubility and higher first-pass metabolism upon oral administration. On this account, due to their unique physical and chemical properties, nanomaterials can be opted to optimize the properties of phytoconstituents, such as bioavailability enhancement, higher stability and better efficacy for better treatment of RA. However, the question of safety, toxicity, and the absence of effective regulation provide significant challenges to researchers working on the practical uses of nano-drugs. Conclusion: Phytoconstituents possess immense potential in replacing conventional drugs for the treatment of RA, and its obstacles can be overcome using nanomaterial-based drug delivery technologies, which maximize the efficacy of these herbal antirheumatic drugs without any systemic adverse effects. Nevertheless, its impact remains limited despite the overwhelming understanding of the nano-drug delivery system. However, with extensive research, nanomaterials will eventually improve the healthcare system.

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